Beloit College Magazine

Summer 2014 (July 10, 2014 at 12:00 am)

Candy-Studded Eggs and Gummy Bear Chandeliers


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July 11, 2014 at 5:15 pm


Kevin Champeny
Kevin Champeny’98 works on an egg for Faberge’s Big Egg Hunt.
At right is the “candelier” he designed for a Nickelodeon sitcom.

Photo by Ana Bekvalac Champeny'98

New York-based sculptor Kevin Champeny’98 has hand-cast tiny fish, miniature flower blossoms, and replicas of just about every colorful piece of candy imaginable. He makes big statements with these tiny works of art, often affixing them en masse to other shapes or stringing them into cascading strands of color.

This year, he was in his element when he was one of 260 artists invited to create large-scale eggs for Fabergé’s Big Egg Hunt in New York, which raised money for charity.

Champeny describes his creation, “Sweet Pysanka,” as an homage to the intricately designed Ukrainian Easter eggs called Pysanka. His 32-by-24 inch egg is coated with a paisley mosaic of 8,500 hand-cast urethane candy replicas, including brightly colored M&M’s, PEZ, and sweet tarts.

The Big Egg Hunt commissioned artists and designers to create large eggs that were “hidden” throughout the five boroughs of the city. Champeny was in good company with contemporary artist Jeff Koons among the egg creators, not to mention fashion designer Ralph Lauren.

Egg hunters downloaded an app that gave clues about egg locations, and prizes were on offer for locating eggs, which were later auctioned to the highest bidder.

Sweet Pysanka ended up hiding in plain sight at the Dean and Deluca’s gourmet food shop in SoHo until Easter. Later, all the eggs were gathered up and assembled in Rockefeller Center, where the auctions continued. Funds went toward two causes: an organization that protects elephant habitats, and a program that brings visual arts programming into New York City’s public schools.

Champeny has been living in New York and working as an artist since graduating from Beloit. He and his wife, Ana Bekvalac’98, carved a studio space out of their home in Westchester, N.Y. By day, Champeny does heavy casting work from a studio in Queens where he works for a prototype company, sculpting models for companies like Smirnoff, Estee Lauder, and Warner Brothers.

Champeny is also a co-owner of Jellio, a company that makes whimsical home furnishings and apparel that draw on childhood memories. Merchandise is sold online and from the Jellio shop in Brooklyn.

His favorite work of art is a chandelier he designed and makes for Jellio—they call it a “candelier”—because it is made from hand-cast gummy bears. The vividly colored piece was initially created for iCarly, the Nickelodeon sitcom for teens.

“The candelier is my favorite,” he says. “I designed and created the prototype, and hand-cast the thousands of bears that go into making them.” He also constructs each candelier by hand and even builds the crates they get shipped in. “It is a labor of love,” he adds.

—Susan Kasten

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